Four teachers have been honored by the Westfield High School community with awards of excellence. WHS principal Mary Asfendis announced the award winners, who were nominated by students, during a virtual faculty meeting on May 12 and morning announcements on May 13.
Special Education teacher Marie Trzepla is the recipient of the Distinguished Teacher of the Year Award, established to annually recognize a teacher who, through both excellence in teaching and a demonstrated commitment to intellectual pursuits beyond the classroom, serves as a model and inspiration to the high school community. Students who nominated Trzepla say she “is always willing to help me out and talk to me when I miss something or don’t understand something in class. She is very patient and always willing to meet when anyone needs help.”
The Above and Beyond Award recognizes a teacher or counselor who has made a difference in the life of a student either socially, emotionally or academically, This year’s recipient is English teacher Nicole Scimone, lauded as an educator who “provides the perfect, comfortable environment to learn.” One fully remote student nominator wrote that Scimone made “the biggest effort to connect to all of her students, learn their interests, and learn about how they work.” “Overall, she’s always going the extra mile to check up on everyone and make sure they’re okay,” this student said.
Science teacher Molly Dennis received the Parent-Teacher-Student Organization (PTSO) Teacher of the Year Award which annually recognizes a teacher who is encouraging and motivating, is a good role model, and shows respects for co-workers, students and parents. Dennis is applauded for being “always optimistic and happy during classes, even those that are very early in the morning.” One student nominator noted that Dennis hosts review sessions before tests and “once drove to the house of every student [in her AP Biology class] to give them hot chocolate.”
For helping students work towards their goals, school counselor Andrew Buckner was honored with the Robert and Linda Foose Memorial Award, named for a former principal and teacher. “Mr. Buckner has made an amazing contribution to my high school education by helping make my dream of an independent study in herpetology a reality,” said a student nominator.
“We are grateful for all of the nominations that recognize our amazing teachers and staff for all they do to promote a positive learning environment. The four teachers were selected for the impact they make in students’ lives, both in and outside the classroom,” says Asfendis. “I am proud to work with these phenomenal educators who are passionate, dedicated and inspiring to their students. They are all well-deserving of their respective awards.”
The awardees will be honored by the Westfield Board of Education at a virtual public meeting on Tuesday, June 1 at 7:00 p.m. Instructions on how to access the virtual board meeting can be found on the district website at www.westfieldnjk12.org under the Board tab.